May 12, 2008
International aid for the Burmese people has started flowing, albeit slowly, one week after the landfall of Cyclone Nargis. Beyond this astonishing delay in disaster relief, writes CGD research assistant Robin Kraft in Burma's Cyclone and Climate Change: A Taste of Things to Come?, the challenges facing the country in Nargis' aftermath are staggering, and highlight the fact that "poverty hugely amplifies the suffering associated with environmental catastrophe." He argues that increased human consequences of future storms due to sea-level rise, together with other climate change--related costs to developing countries, justifies making climate change a much higher priority in the development community.
In that vein, World Bank Power Projects: Crossroads on Renewable Energy illustrates my forthcoming paper with Kevin Ummel on a dynamic strategy for developing solar thermal power (STP) as a cost-competitive alternative to coal-fired power. This is a crucial component of climate-change mitigation, and we show that reasonable carbon charges and strategic investments by a World Bank Clean Technology Fund would push the incremental cost of STP down "along the learning curve as solar power production grows [until it reaches] parity with the cost of supercritical coal."
As always, below is a selection of important articles on climate and development from the past two weeks. My thanks to Robin Kraft for his help in preparing this letter.
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
Climate change could force 1 billion from their homes by 2050 (The Independent)
Gas guzzlers a hit in China, where car sales are booming (Associated Press)
Weigh climate change, UK property investors urged (Reuters)
Tesco trials climate-change labels on groceries (Reuters)
Climate change blamed as insurance payouts increase (Montreal Gazette)
Rockefeller's descendants tell Exxon to face the reality of climate change (The Independent)
US air force calls for mission to combat climate change (The Guardian)